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ROUTE 66

Miami Marathon Oil Company Service Station
Miami, Oklahoma

 

Miami Marathon Oil Company Service Station
courtesy of Kaye Duncanvice

A Greek temple with motor oil on the floor?  A service station that’s mostly porch?  A house with gas pumps out front instead of rocking chairs?  Take your pick.  The Miami Marathon Station is a little of each.  The building is significant as a fine example of the Neoclassical Revival style “house with canopy” gas station and for the role it played in commerce along Route 66.

In Miami, Oklahoma old Route 66 ran right down Main Street where the station still occupies a corner lot.  This location allowed convenient automobile access and increased visibility from a distance during the years when Route 66 became the nation’s major east-west artery.

Transcontinental Oil built the station in 1929 and a local family leased it for $40 a month.  Marathon Oil soon acquired Transcontinental and, before long, the station sported the Marathon Oil Company emblem, the Greek runner Pheidippides.  Because Pheidippides was the original marathon man, the company’s slogan, “Best in the long run,” was a natural choice.

Perhaps to complement the Greek runner on the station’s signage, the building used the Neoclassical Revival style.  The exterior of the front gabled square building of white glazed brick has a full height portico held up by massive classical columns.  The building is like a small Greek temple with a triangular pediment fronting the carport and crown molding over the door.  Buzzing light bulbs lit the bay, six down each side and five in the front, their weak, yellow light guiding motorists in out of the night.  Even in the 1930s, when canopies like the one in Miami fell out of favor in much of the country, they remained popular in the Southwest because they provided daytime protection from the harsh sun.

The porch-like canopy and homey design of the station suggested a haven to early motorists as they traveled the Mother Road.  Oil companies used domestic designs to fit comfortably within adjacent residential neighborhoods, and small stations like this one in Miami reassured travelers that while the route through town may be unfamiliar, it could still be friendly.

The station is easy to find today.  The owner recently restored the building for use as a beauty salon.  It looks much as it did in the 1930s, although the gas pumps have been removed, and only a ghost outline of the Pheidippides runner is visible.  The National Park Service listed the station in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Plan your visit
The Miami Marathon Oil Company Service Station is located at 331 South Main St. in Miami, OK.  Call 918-541-1615 for information.  The Miami Marathon Oil Company Service Station National Register nomination form can be found here.
 
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